Dance artists Igor Urzelai and Moreno Solinas’ work is characterised by a strong will to employ a poetic yet political language through the use of the body, voice, text and design. In 2011 they were both invited to join Work Place artists scheme, an ongoing support and development programme promoted by The Place (London) and the Escalator Dance Scheme, an Arts Council England (East) initiative. Marianne Tuckman talks to them about their working partnership, ethics of performance and how they’re shaped more by what they don’t like than what they do.
How do you make a partnership work in the studio?
Moreno: Not compromising! A collaboration isn’t about finding a meeting point. It’s about reaching a third unimagined place that goes above and beyond.
Igor: You’ve got to respect and trust each other’s ideas. If there’s something we don’t agree on, we try to find out why. This can be time consuming but worth it. Disagreements are often caused because you’re not understanding exactly what the other actually means, and by talking further you discover that they are complementary perspectives.
It is also very important to disagree openly, in front of whoever we’re working with so that everyone involved has access to the ideas in the same way. Then, after the rehearsal we reflect and discuss if one of us felt that something was wrong. Table time is important. We prepare outside the studio so that we’re both on the same page.
Moreno: You need to have a different relationship outside the studio….close things.
Would you say that your collaboration’s strong foundations rest on the similarities between the two of you or the differences?
Igor: We’re interested in similar things for different reasons.
Moreno: We’ve developed a common language but we do have different skills in terms of forming concepts, editing and polishing.
Igor: I’m more impulsive.
Moreno: I’m more rational. I like to bring things to a close.
So, let’s say you’ve just left a performance. You’re on the way to the pub feeling excited and satisfied. What must a piece of work contain to leave you like this?
Moreno: I’ve got to agree with the ethics of the piece; how the performers are portrayed, to see that they own what they perform and are not being puppeteered, how gender is dealt with and how the director has treated the team during the process.
Igor: I don’t like ideas being thrown around aimlessly. There needs to be purpose. There could be a feeling of ideas being thrown aimlessly but that can be an aim in itself, and if is intended you can feel the difference. A sense of care is important for me too. Generosity, in terms of how much you give to what you’re doing. A creative team that is fully invested.
Igor & Moreno: Coherence. Integrity. Consciousness of the artists to present an experience in a thorough way. Process guided by enquiry. Also risk, exposing yourself to failure.
Igor: If a piece fails I might not go and see it again and again but I’ll respect them for their risk taking!
Conceptual dance generally fails to connect with a wide audience. How do you think that your combination of text, movement and song can help audiences to access the obscure notions you explore?
Igor: It’s not the combination itself; it’s more how you use it. We avoid obscurity at all costs. We aim to be clear.
Moreno: For us everything is directed towards helping people empathize and to experience a connection. There are many different ways to make work with a conceptual centre though.
Who influences you?
Igor: I would probably say that I value what I’ve learnt from my peers the most. I also respect and learned from many other artists too, although it is hard to specifically identify who. I guess I resist being compared to those who I admire. Also often I make something that contrasts starkly from what inspires me and learn from work that I disagree with.
Moreno: We don’t carry a specific movement style so inspiration varies between the works. Form is not our main concern, we’re more curious about communication through the body and its presence. I respect Jérôme Bel. I am inspired by Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker for her commitment rather than her aesthetic.
Igor: We often shape ourselves by recognising our differences and similarities with others, both on things you like and agree with and others you don’t like. Isn’t this how identity is found?
Any advice for aspiring creators/ performers?
Igor & Moreno: Go and see as much you can. Read. Participate in talks. When you need something ask for it. People respect determined people. Help each other. Keep a sense of team. Trust yourselves. Find your own voice
Igor and Moreno will be performing their duet Idiot-Syncrasy at The Place on 30th September and 1st October.